What Were Weddings Like in Ancient Greece?

Weddings in Ancient Greece were a significant event and were considered one of the most important rites of passage for young men and women. The ceremony itself was steeped in tradition and was an occasion for celebrating not just the union of two people but also the joining of two families. In this article, we will explore what weddings were like in Ancient Greece.

Marriage in Ancient Greece

Marriage in Ancient Greece was not just a romantic union between two individuals but was also a practical arrangement. It was considered a duty to society to get married and have children as it ensured the continuation of the family line. Therefore, marriages were arranged by parents or guardians, based on social status, wealth, and family connections.


Once a suitable match was found, negotiations between the two families would begin. The prospective groom would approach the father or guardian of the bride-to-be with an offering known as the ekdosis. This offering could be livestock or money and symbolized his ability to provide for his future wife.

If both parties agreed to the arrangement, they would exchange gifts such as jewelry or clothing as a sign of their commitment to each other. At this point, the couple was considered engaged.

Pre-Wedding Rituals

In Ancient Greece, weddings were multi-day celebrations that involved many pre-wedding rituals. These rituals included:

  • Proaulia: This ritual involved preparing the bride for her wedding day. Female relatives would help her bathe, dress up in her wedding attire, and adorn her with jewelry.
  • Gamos: This ritual involved sacrificing animals to the gods and goddesses who presided over marriage.
  • Nympheutria: This ritual involved cutting off a lock of hair from both the bride and groom and dedicating it to the gods.

Wedding Day

On the wedding day, the groom led a procession to the bride’s house, accompanied by his friends and family. The bride would be waiting for him, surrounded by her female relatives. The groom would then present gifts to the bride’s father or guardian as a sign of respect.

The wedding ceremony itself involved the couple exchanging vows in front of witnesses, which included family members and friends. The couple then shared a meal with their guests, which was followed by dancing and music.


In conclusion, weddings in Ancient Greece were significant events that were steeped in tradition and involved many pre-wedding rituals. Marriage was seen as a practical arrangement rather than solely a romantic union between two individuals. Despite this, weddings were still occasions for celebration and brought families together.